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Massachusetts Representative pushes for child custody reform

Parents who have struggled with a mental or physical disability can face discrimination in child custody hearings. Unfortunately, a judge making a determination in a child custody case for this parent may decide the diagnosis is enough to rule the parent as unfit.

Massachusetts State Representative Paul Heroux is pushing to change this by reforming the state's child custody laws. The legislator is specifically working to change the rules a judge must follow when handling these matters. He introduced a bill, titled An Act Prohibiting Discrimination Against Adults with Disabilities in Family and Juvenile Court Proceedings, which is currently under study.

If passed, the bill would require judges obtain written proof that a parent's disability would harm the child before using the disability as a factor in a child custody or visitation determination. According to the representative, the bill was effectively stalled this legislative session when it was sent for study. On average, he notes that bills take about six years to become law in Massachusetts.

Regardless of whether this bill becomes law or not, the discussion brings attention to the difficulties that can arise during child custody battles. Unfortunately, disabilities are just one of many issues that can arise during these determinations. As a result, those who are going through a divorce that involves the need for a child custody resolution are wise to seek the counsel of an experienced child custody attorney. This legal professional will review the process with you and help to build a case that not only represents the children's best interests but also works to protect your parental rights, better ensuring a more favorable outcome. 

Source: Huffington Post, "Disability and Discrimination in Custody Battles," Paul Heroux, July 24, 2014

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